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Sheep Identification And Traceability

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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What discussions she has had with the European Commission about the EU proposal on sheep identification and traceability. [106697]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Mr. Elliot Morley)

Officials have held high-level discussions on these proposals with the European Commission and my noble Friend Lord Whitty contributed to a brief discussion on the proposals during the Agriculture Council on 27 and 28 January.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does he agree with the National Farmers Union Scotland that the European Union proposals would effectively close the Scottish sheep industry? Will he do everything possible to bring the highly regarded Scottish flock identification system, which is supported by farmers, vets and the Government, to the attention of the Commission?

We have raised our concerns with the Commission about its proposals several times and said that they are inappropriate given the size of our sheep flock and the fact that we have recording procedures, as the hon. Gentleman says. We must seriously address the traceability of sheep. We believe that electronic identification is ultimately the right way forward. Harmonisation rules on that are not yet in place, but the current proposals are not satisfactory. We shall continue to make representations to the Commission on the matter.